Zaporizhzhia plant boils down to diesel generators as shelling cuts off power essential for cooling

  • A nuclear power plant needs electricity to avoid collapse
  • Nighttime shelling brought down the main power line
  • Rely on emergency diesel generators for now
  • IAEA says protection zone is ‘urgent imperative’

KYIV/VIENNA, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Nightly shelling has cut off power to Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which needs cooling to avoid a meltdown, forcing it to switch to generators emergency, said the Ukrainian nuclear society and the UN atomic watchdog. Saturday.

Even though the six reactors are shut down, they still need a constant supply of electricity to cool the nuclear fuel inside and avert disaster.

Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of bombing the site of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant which damaged buildings and threatened a catastrophic nuclear accident. The International Atomic Energy Agency is pushing for a protection zone to be put in place to prevent further bombardments.

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Speaking on BBC World News on Saturday, Petro Kotin, the head of Ukrainian nuclear company Energoatom, warned that diesel generators currently had only a limited supply of fuel.

“Right now we’re working on the logistics to get more fuel to these generators,” he said.

Energoatom did not immediately respond to a question about the status of negotiations with the Russian authorities regarding the supply of fuel to the plant.

“If (the generators) run out of fuel, after that they will shut down, and after that there will be a catastrophe…there will be meltdown of the active core and release of radioactivity from there,” Kotin said. .

The nuclear plant is in part of the Zaporizhzhia region recently annexed by Russia, a move rejected by Ukraine and its allies as an imperial grab.

In a decree issued on Saturday, the Russian government set up a company to take control of the plant, as President Vladimir Putin had ordered on October 5. read more

The IAEA, which has two observers present at the plant, confirmed Energoatom’s statement that the plant had switched to its diesel generators after shelling around 1 a.m. cut off the 750-kilovolt main line feeding the plant. in external energy.

“The resumption of bombing, hitting the plant’s only external energy source, is extremely irresponsible. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant must be protected,” the IAEA quoted its chief Rafael Grossi as saying in a statement.

“All safety systems of the plant continue to be powered and operate normally, informed the IAEA experts (based in Zaporizhzhia) by senior Ukrainian officials,” said the IAEA.

Grossi has been in talks with Russia and Ukraine about setting up a protection zone around the plant, although he declined to say what exactly that would entail or how it would be enforced or monitored. He was in Kyiv on Thursday and is due to travel to Russia early next week.

“I will soon go to the Russian Federation, then return to Ukraine, to agree on a nuclear protection and safety zone around the plant. This is an absolute and urgent imperative,” Grossi said, quoted by the IAEA.

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Reporting by Max Hunder and François Murphy; Editing by Catherine Evans, Ros Russell and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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